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Blue Rondo / Steffens, International Connection, Et Al


Release Date: 06/29/2009 
Label:  Tudor Records   Catalog #: 7047   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dave BrubeckClaude DebussyBill EvansArthur Honegger,   ... 
Performer:  David GazarovKarl-Heinz SteffensMartin ZehnKeith Copeland,   ... 
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If any further evidence were needed to prove that post-WWII generations of musicians are more capable of functioning fluently in both jazz and classical spheres than their predecessors, this CD could serve as "exhibit A." International Connection—a "flexible jazz formation," according to the program booklet—was cofounded by pianist Gazarov and acoustic bassist Lachotta, and it includes musicians from Germany, Azerbaijan, and the United States. This program equally balances jazz and classical pieces, each performed in its own idiom—that is to say, the jazz tunes "swing" and the classical pieces are done "straight" and not jazzed up. Why mix the two? Because they can.

Actually, it's only
Read more Steffens's clarinet—the focus of the proceedings—that straddles the jazz/classical fence here, but it's worth the attention. If Steffens is somewhat more effective on the classical material, it's because he finds convincing ways to express what's already in the music waiting to come out—the capriciousness of the Debussy Rhapsody, the brooding quality of the first of Stravinsky's Three Pieces, the noirish undercurrent in Honegger's Sonatine, the nobility and pathos in the first two movements of Poulenc 's Sonata. Improvising solos on the jazz tunes, Steffens never stumbles, though his embroideries haven't quite the personal touch of his classical side. He's fluid in a post-Benny Goodman style on Blue Rondo a la Turk, brings a Buddy DeFranco coolness to the bebop edginess of Charlie Parker's Yardhird Suite, sounds suave on the samba Minha Saudade, and offers a suitably restrained reading of Thad Jones's poignant ballad A Child Is Born. In all cases, there's a warmth and caress to his tone that's altogether engaging.

Steffens's cohorts are equally capable in their roles. Though it's nowhere specified, I assume from information in their biographies that Martin Zehn is pianist on the classical duos and Gazarov plays on the jazzy stuff. If so, Zehn's a fine, unflinching accompanist, and Gazarov fashions a lovely introduction to Waltz for Dehby that provides a bridge from Debussy to its composer, Bill Evans. Good musicianship from top to bottom. Recommended, if either side of the program appeals to you.

-- Art Lange, Fanfare
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Works on This Recording

1. Blue Rondo a la Turk by Dave Brubeck
Performer:  David Gazarov (Piano), Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet), Martin Zehn (Piano),
Keith Copeland (Drums), Chris Lachotta (Double Bass)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
2. Première Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Piano by Claude Debussy
Performer:  David Gazarov (Piano), Martin Zehn (Piano), Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909-1910; France 
3. Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans
Performer:  Keith Copeland (Drums), Martin Zehn (Piano), Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet),
Chris Lachotta (Double Bass), David Gazarov (Piano)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Notes: This work was written in collaboration with Eugene Lees. 
4. Sonatina for Cello and Piano by Arthur Honegger
Performer:  Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet), David Gazarov (Piano), Martin Zehn (Piano)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
5. Minha Saudade by Joao Donato
Performer:  David Gazarov (Piano), Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet), Chris Lachotta (Double Bass),
Martin Zehn (Piano), Keith Copeland (Drums)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
6. Pieces (3) for Clarinet solo by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Switzerland 
7. Yardbird Suite by Charlie Parker
Performer:  Chris Lachotta (Double Bass), Keith Copeland (Drums), Martin Zehn (Piano),
Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet), David Gazarov (Piano)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
8. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  David Gazarov (Piano), Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet), Martin Zehn (Piano)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; France 
9. A child is born by Thad Jones
Performer:  David Gazarov (Piano), Martin Zehn (Piano), Keith Copeland (Drums),
Chris Lachotta (Double Bass), Karl-Heinz Steffens (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Karl-Heinz Steffens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Connection
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 

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